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Posted on May 3, 2017

How to take good care of your Raspberry Pi

computers

raspberry

There’s no question that the little single-board computer known as the Raspberry Pi has made a staggering impact since the release of the first version – the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B – in 2012.

So many people in schools and developing countries around the world have effectively been introduced to the wonders of computer science through this marvellous microcomputer, with many of its most ardent fans coming from well beyond its initial target markets.

However, if there is one obvious downside to the Raspberry Pi, it’s that it’s an undeniably delicate little thing that can be highly susceptible to accidental damage. So, what do you need to do to ensure that your own Raspberry Pi remains in tip-top condition?

raspberry pi

Consider investing in a protective case

Yes, I know you’re already sick of me telling you this, but it really is vital to appreciate just how vulnerable the Raspberry Pi is to all of those little knocks or other mishaps that could cause terminal damage.

In its ‘off the shelf’ form, the Raspberry Pi is a naked circuit board with nothing whatsoever to protect it. Nor can you depend on simply ‘getting by’ if it does sustain damage, as any bent or broken part will mean that it no longer works at all.

The logical answer to this problem is to invest in a protective case for your Pi, although this still raises the question of whether it’s best to opt for a ‘homemade’ case or one of the many dedicated Raspberry Pi cases now available on the market.

Should you make your own Raspberry Pi case?

It can certainly be fun to design and make your own case for your Raspberry Pi – just look at this guide on the Instructables site to how you can make one out of Lego, for example.

Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to find a container at home that is just the right size for a Raspberry Pi, although in most cases, it will probably be either a bit too small or a big too big. Many smaller cases, for example, have the problem of leaving the SD card sticking out, which means you will also need to acquire a separate SD card case.

As for the bigger containers that you might happen to come across at the back of one of your kitchen cupboards, there might be more than enough space for the SD card, but you might also have the problem of your Raspberry Pi being left rattling around inside. You might have to include some ‘padding’ to keep your Pi still in there, which is obviously far from ideal.

OK, so what about the various dedicated cases out there?

Good idea! I recently decided to log onto one of the best-known Raspberry Pi-related online stores – The Pi Hut – to browse their range of cases. I quickly discovered that there’s a very smart-looking official case for the Raspberry Pi 3, in a pleasing red and white design and providing a snug and secure fit for the Pi, while also leaving all of the primary ports – including the microSD – accessible.

This case was only priced at £6 at the time of my visit, and with its five-star reviews and optional clip-on lid for further protection if needed, it ticks a lot of boxes for a great Raspberry Pi case for such a low price. It’s also available in black and grey, and there’s a smaller version for the Raspberry Pi Zero as well.

raspberry pie

What else do you need to know about caring for your Pi?

Caring properly for your Raspberry Pi isn’t just about the physical protection side of things – in today’s Internet of Things (IoT) world, it’s also advisable to be alert to the risk of hacking attacks when you use your Pi with connected devices or home automation projects.

It’s therefore well worth consulting a guide such as this one at Hackster on how you can make your Pi as secure as possible against the likes of man in the middle and spoofing attacks. You can even set up a firewall for your Pi, together with an intrusion detection system that lets you know if someone still somehow manages to penetrate your Pi’s defences.

With all of the above said, however, it’s worth emphasising that a Linux-based computer like the Raspberry Pi isn’t really vulnerable to virus attacks in the way that a Windows PC is. This is due to various factors, including – but not necessarily limited to – the wide range of Raspberry Pi software permutations that makes it harder for attackers to define a particular target, as well as the generally tech-savvy nature of Raspberry Pi users compared to Windows ones.

In summary, then, when you want to protect your Raspberry Pi against all of the problems that could realistically befall it, it’ll be physical protection to which you need to pay the most attention. Feel free to share your own advice below on how to best care for a Raspberry Pi and keep it working like clockwork for a long time to come!

Posted on February 15, 2017

A Brief History of Microsoft Windows

computers

A Brief History of Microsoft Windows

Since Windows 1 was launched in 1985, the Windows operating system has changed massively.

My first memories of Windows were on version 3.1. Basically, the only thing you could do was play solitaire, draw on point and use the notepad.

I was sent this infographic over to share with you all about the different versions of windows have changed over time. It’s hard to imagine an operating system in 2017 that could run off 192KB ram!

Take a look and get nostalgic:

A Brief History of Microsoft Windows

Posted on October 17, 2016

Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse // Review

computers/ tech

Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse Review I was recently sent the Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse to review.

The mouse is designed to allow you to perform movements on your computer while using your body parts designed for these types of moments. Rather than using shoulders and arms in an unnatural and healthy position, the Penclic B2 lets you use your fingers to carry out these movements to help reduce the likelihood of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse Review

I love the packaging of the product, it’s encased in a cylinder tube that is easily put back together – handy if you want to sell the product at a later date.

The Penclic Mouse comes with a start-up guide and a troubleshooting leaflet. In typical electronics style, both guides had many languages. Despite the size of the leaflet, there wasn’t much information at all. I ended up going on the Penclic website to download the startup guide which included more detail with pictures.

Hey, I need pictures because I’m a useless girl. Don’t judge me, okay?

Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse Review

The box also includes a pouch which is home to the USB port and rechargeable battery.

You put the battery in the bottom of the pen and plug the USB cable in to charge it. The light on the front flashes green when charging. It then has a continuous green light once fully charged.

To connect it, you press a button underneath to connect the device by Bluetooth.

I’m not going to lie, I found it hard connecting the mouse. It didn’t seem to like my computer. I then dropped it by accident and the pen fell out of its socket. I pushed it back in and then it seemed to work. Maybe the fall did it good, ha! It doesn’t seem damaged at all by the little accident.

Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse Review

Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse Review Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse Review Penclic B2 Bluetooth Mouse Review

penclic mouse b2 penclic mouse b2

Overall, the pen looks great on the desk although it’s quite awkward to use. It’s nicer to use than a traditional mouse, but I think I still prefer my track pad on my Mac over the pen as I’m used to the shortcuts and everything already.

I think it would take a few weeks of using it to fall in love and because I don’t suffer from any pains due to my excessive computer use, I don’t quite need to do this yet, but it’s good to know I have the option.

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Posted on January 27, 2016

Wanting to switch to Mac? You should get a Mac Mini

computers

mac mini

When people find out I have a Mac desktop, they imagine one of those iMacs that you can get, the screen with the Apple logo on the front that costs over £1000.

Mac Mini’s are always a surprise to people. I can’t believe how many people haven’t heard of them.

When I decided to get a Mac, this was the first thing I looked at because it’s basically the entry level Mac. But that doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish.

I’ve had my Mac Mini for over three years now and it’s still a great computer to work with. With Windows, I found myself getting a virus all too often, or a tool bar added onto my web browser. It would suddenly get slow for no reason and I’d find text links embedded in webpages from some malware that had installed itself on my PC.

So if you’re considering getting a Mac but not wanting to spend £1000 on an iMac, then reach for a Mac Mini. You can get the most basic one for £399, which is the same specs as the one I bought 3 years ago.

mac mini

A Mac Mini is basically what you see above. It’s the small square device and it comes alone, which is one of the reasons why it’s so cheap.

I was already using my PC with my 32 inch TV, so I used an HDMI cable to connect my new Mac Mini to the TV.

In regards to the keyboard and mouse, I used the same one that I used with my PC at first and connected them via the USB ports in the back of the Mac Mini. Over time, I bought the Mac keyboard and trackpad mouse. This meant I didn’t have to invest in everything straight away.

The memory on my Mac was 4GB. I upgraded it myself, YES MYSELF, by buying 16GB of memory for around £50. It’s dead easy, you just turn the Mac Mini upside down, remove the black panel by twisting it and click them in.

mac mini

Other things I love about the Mac Mini is the SD card slot, so I can easily put my memory card from my camera into the back to directly upload photos without faffing about cables.

Though I must note that there is no disc drive on this.

mac mini

mac mini

Here are the current Mac Mini’s that you can get from Apple and their specs:

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 00.52.14

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Posted on July 16, 2015

Why I switched from Windows to Macs.

computers/ featured

IMG_0423

Ahhhh, the great debate. This post was actually requested by a reader who wanted to know what’s so great about Apple computers.

Windows vs Macs. 

It seems there’s a camp of people who are 100% for Macs, a camp that are 100% Windows and a camp that own Windows computers but want Macs.

I bought my first Mac late 2012. It’s the desktop computer I still use today. It’s a Mac mini which, in my opinion, is a great first time Mac for someone not wanting to spend £1000 on a computer. Mine cost around £600 and you can get a basic one for £399.

Mac Mini’s are just the actual computer, so you need a screen, keyboard and mouse for them.

I was already using a 32 inch TV on my previous computer, so I just used a HDMI cable to connect my Mac. I also used my USB keyboard and mouse I already had for the first few months.

I then took the plunge and after months and months of thinking about it, I bought my MacBook Pro in February 2014. It was a refurbished one from eBay and cost £600.

And I’ve never looked back.

mac

Here are the reasons I love Mac computers much more than PCs that run on Windows.

  • Macs are smooth. They freeze less often, they boot quickly and it’s easy to switch between programs without causing the world to end.
  • Macs can open PDFs without causing the world to end.
  • PCs start to lag very quickly. With a Mac, it’s like turning on a new computer every time.
  • Macs look beautiful.
  • PC’s become full of adware and viruses quickly. It’s very rare for a Mac to get a virus.
  • Browsers on PC’s easily pick up tool bars and programs which change things such like default search engine, show adverts and links. And they’re difficult to remove.
  • They work seamlessly with my iPads and iPhone. All my e-mails, iMessages and notes all sync up. I can easily switch from texting some from my phone, to my computer and then to an iPad.

You can buy a PC cheap. And it’s true that you can get much more memory, storage and more for your money with windows computer. But the thing is, they just don’t last.

With Macs, you don’t need the top model to get a smooth user experience. Even the entry level ones, like my Mac mini, can last you years without causing you problems.

Are you a Mac user or a Windows user?

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